Call me old fashioned, but my relationship with videogames has always been a tactile one. I was exposed to the comforting and empowering grip of the NES controller at an early age, and as I grew, I got my hands on a plethora of arcade sticks, keyboards, and other peripherals. These controllers acted as a link between my mind and body and the world of the game. It’s not like I really felt like I was Castlevania’s Simon Belmont, but the controller made me feel that much closer to him and made the gaming experience as a whole one that I feel a strong connection with.
Then the iPhone came along. Now having seen a good deal of change in gaming over the years, I was not exactly resistant towards the rise of this touch-based gaming, but I always felt disconnected from it or that it was just a novelty. Having been raised primarily on console gaming, the controller has always been omnipresent. So while I do play the occasional iOS game, they rarely ever engaged me. That is until The Room.
The Room, developed by Fireproof Games, is a puzzler set in a old dark house where cryptic notes instruct you to discover the eldritch secrets behind a series of puzzle boxes that are far more complex than your average Rubik’s Cube. The Room is comprised of four chapters, each with it’s own puzzle box, but o call them simply “boxes” doesn’t quite do them justice. Each box comprised of hidden compartments, complex machinery, and parts that completely change when seen through a special looking glass.
There is a cause-and-effect web that makes solving each conundrum exciting. A secret compartment houses a key, and that key opens a clock, and turning that clock to a certain time opens another compartment, and so on.
Even though the game is done with touch, there is almost a tactile feel to it since you have to perform motions to do things like unhook latches, turn screws, and examine objects for clues. I can honestly say this is the first iOS game I have played that has actively engaged me, rather than being a fun time-killer, because of the way it combines intuitive controls with clever problem solving. The moody atmosphere and spooky music reminded me of Myst or the first Resident Evil, and gives The Room an eerie sense of isolation.
I will say that this game is preferably played on an iPad, but with some squinting aside, I still found playing The Room on an iPhone 5 enjoyable. The game has some truly great graphics, but the downside to that is that it can only be played on the iPhone 4S and up and the iPad 2 and up. Also, as a puzzle game, it does not have a super high replay value, but the initial experience and sense of discovery makes it worth the purchase. Fireproof has also announced that they will be adding more stages soon. This is an iOS game that is not to be missed.